Friday, 18 November 2011

Wine is still the nectar of the Gods...

... and their temple is Tuebingen!
On 12th November 2011 the Nauck family set out on their pilgrimage to Germany for the visit of the Weinmarkt Mattheis' wine fair (in German). This trip is now marking the starting point of a family tradition - yes, two visits are enough to call it a traditional event - and plans are already in progress for 2012.

Last year we travelled to show our support for a mad and daring friend who after a life of work in the IT business bought the Weinmarkt Mattheis starting an endeavour others only dream of. Back then we were taught a lesson or two: a lesson about wine, and a lesson about how not to travel to such an event.

Regarding the travel, please compare the pictures of our bounty

2010 we had one suitcase for two people and in 2011 we travelled with two suitcases: one for the people and one for the wine. For the first time I checked in an empty suitcase... oh well, not really empty, it was full of bubble wrap.

... and we still missed out on one wine we really liked. Only solution: We need bigger suitcases!

That brings me to the lesson learnt about wine. See, last year we were flabbergasted and a bit overwhelmed by the richness of range. Only thanks to the wonderful atmosphere, the Mattheis team and the wine producers who where so enthusiastic about their produce we found a starting point. This year we just wanted to take it from there, and we wanted to find some gifts for friends and family for Christmas. How wonderful is that: We taste, we decide, we write a card, we pay, and Weinmarkt Mattheis sends it of right in time for whatever date we wish. So off we went with our wine tasting list firmly in hand.

For Christmas gifts, and as an incentive to bring the family together for next years event, we decided for some local wine. Digging into last years faint knowledge we stumbled over table 8: 'Collegium Wirtemberg' had a 'Lemberger', a grape not too well known and rather lovely. I usually only like my wine together with food, I don't like it too sour or bitter-ish, something that wine connoisseurs call tannin or barrique which means the wine was ripened in oak barrels and hence tastes like wood... This Lemberger didn't have any of that and hence is a nice and easy wine for people who are not really into wine. Interestingly enough it is as well a nice wine for people who are into all that stuff; Detlef liked it, too.

We tried a few similar ones and it was all nice and well, but we had found our 'easy going' wine and decided to make it the basis of our shopping spree. By that time we were rather tipsy! Oh that lovely food to keep people going. Again, they had varieties of bread, sausage, bacon and Parmesan cheese at the stalls. In the food court they were serving typically Swabian dishes from soups to sausages and tarts. That should help to clear the head and the pallet...

Well, actually one is not supposed to drink it all. Plenty of containers to dispose of unwanted quantities of alcohol were dotted around the place... just that most of the quantities were very much wanted. Slightly more clearheaded we very scientifically tried the Lembergers against Pino Noir, liked some, but not enough to buy, and ... ended up at table 8: Well, with that one we hit straight into the high end of the price range, but boy what a wine. Local, we both liked it, perfect, another gift sorted!

We needed one more present, though!

Mother-in-law is very much francophil, hence we needed a French wine. Oh my, I don't like French wine. Whenever I had those they tasted like vinegar. Next lesson learnt: either drink it in the country of origin or use wine tastings, but don't just buy supermarket.

Beaujolais is usually known for 'Beaujolais Nouveau'. There is such a hype around the launch of each years Beaujolais which is beyond my comprehension, especially that it is a new and hence rather weak wine. Thanks to the advice of our host we however got lucky; we found a Beaujolais which is just lovely with an even lovelier name Saint-Amour. Fruity and easy going, and definitely far from water mixed with vinegar. So we decided to bring a bottle for us, too.

See, at that point it really appeared to us that we need more training and that hece next years event is mandatory: we were tipsy again and had to eat more with the result of a very  stuffed feeling. We could not allow letting our lovely hosts down, a brisk walk was in order and the next range of wines could be tackled: Whites.

That pretty much was my personal quest as Detlef doesn't like Whites... I don't like them either, they seem to always have something sparkly about them, brrr... I however found that some foods don't take Reds well and from a chef's point of view there must be at least one white wine that is suitable... and we ended up at table 8: Pinot grigio from 'Collegium Wirtemberg' is my solution. I learned that the grapes look a bit small, shrivelled and like gone bad, but hence produce a wine which is rather fruitful and which even works with Asparagus, a  vegetable apparently almost impossible to compliment with wine. Well, I call that mission accomplished!

And now the two biggest wines we bought, and the grape we both love most when a grand wine is asked for, the one that you drink after dinner at the fireplace while reading a good book, possibly with a bit of a cheese to nibble on.The Primitivo from the South of Italy is just divine. We had a bottle of the Sessantanni Primitivo last year, I remembered that I liked it, but for the love of God could not remember how it tasted. Now I tried it again and it hit me. I, Rika, the one who doesn't like bitter, sour or spicy got bitten by a wine that tastes like cloves - who would have thought?

Again I learned a little lesson. The stories people make up to describe a wine make sense in a way. Although we laymen may not get what the experts are talking about it makes sense for me to make up my own stories.The little szenarios I build around each of them hopefully will help me to remember a particular wine in the future. Well, I know that there is a name on the bottle, but honestly: Who comes up with those? and then I still can't remember what's in the bottle.

Not enough, though! Our host demanded an opinion! There was another Primitivo, almost the same price, different area and again: Oh boy! Same grape soooo different, fruitier, less Christmas pudding more Black Forest Gateau...dunno... I guess we just will indulge in both of them when the time is ripe. This last one has a sweet brother, the Primitivo di Manduria Chicca. Oh, this one definitely is mama's boy. Unfortunately the suitcase was full and mama will have to wait another year to be able to take it to her heart.

This lack of space was caused however due to another quest: Where would one be able to taste Whiskeys? We already had three different bottles at home and the fate of each of those lies in being mixed with coke.

We wanted Whiskey that rolls nicely over the tongue and leaves a nice and warm taste. Ten  open bottles in front of us, two recommendations from Juergen and as usual they were spot on and as usual we couldn't decide. Detlef likes mine as well, but there was a very strong and smokey one which grew on him, so we had to take them both.

That should last us a while and next year is another year. New wine and loads of new ideas for the wine shop as well. Juergen is planning for tasting stations and a colour scheme to help customers to choose the right wine for their dishes. Wine demystified!

And here is a toast to a mysteriously misty November weekend and a cosy Christmas time: ... hic!

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